Every curly girl has her own hair journey, and that road of discovery is often paved with hair products. When I was pregnant, I knew I wouldn’t have time to straighten my hair after my baby was born, so I started doing more research on how to really make my curly hair look good without a lot of time. That’s when I finally started to embrace my own natural beauty and let go of what I “should” look like.
Embracing my naturally curly hair and natural hair color was a powerful change that helped me accept myself just as I am, including parts of my personality that I had also tried to change. I was committed to wearing my hair curly, so I did lots of research and tried a wide range of products for curly hair. It has still taken me over a year to find what works the best for me, but here are the products I like.
Note: My hair is very fine and fairly thin (especially after having my baby). It’s currently just longer than shoulder length. I have combination curly and wavy hair, and my scalp is naturally oily. I also live in Colorado in a very dry climate. These products may or may not work on your hair texture. I’ve tried to be as specific as possible in describing them and for what hair types and climates they may work.
Best Mousse for Curly Hair
DevaCurl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam
This is the one, guys. This is the one I’ve been looking for since I was 12. The Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam is finally a product that does what the label says. It gives my natural curls such great volume and so little frizz. It’s a foam, so it has a similar texture to a mousse, but it’s less intense. It pumps out like foaming hand soap because it doesn’t contain any alcohol or propellants like traditional mousses.
This product smells divine and air dries quickly. It’s a light product, so I go through it a little bit faster than some others I’ve tried, but one bottle will last me about 5 or 6 weeks. Because it is not heavy at all, my curls stay light and bouncy all day. In the evening, if my hair looks a little limp, I’ll do a light mist of water and some scrunching, and my curls bounce back to life again. Love, love, love this stuff.
- Good volume
- Medium definition
- Medium hold
- No cast
- Great smell
- Expensive price
- Gets used quickly
- Doesn’t hold curls more than one day
- Thin or fine hair
- Medium curl patterns
- Oily scalps
Best Volumizing Hairspray
Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray
This is the hairspray I’ve used for years. It holds better than any other brand I’ve tried. I use it sparingly though, because it can quickly weigh down my hair. I use a few sprays right at the roots while I lift with my fingers, and I let my roots dry completely before letting go. I’ll also use just a quick spray and scrunch on sections of my hair that aren’t quite as curly to help them hold their definition better. Because it takes so little to get results, one can of product will last me over a year, no kidding. Like all hairsprays, this can build up quickly if I’m too heavy-handed or use it too frequently. It also will make my hair dry and tangle easily if used too often. So I use it sparingly, but I love this stuff.
- Excellent all day hold and definition
- Long lasting
- Builds up
- Anyone who wants big sexy hair!
TIGI Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier
We lived in Wisconsin for several months of 2016, and the summer humidity was freaking out this desert-born girl. My hair wouldn’t be tamed by anything I tried. My natural curls were the tightest and craziest they’ve ever been. I read a ton of reviews, and everyone raved about the Curls Rock Amplifier, so I gave it a try. And it was awesome. It was just the product my curly hair needed in the 85% humidity. I loved the smell too, and the product goes super far. I used about 3 pea-sized amounts for my hair before blow drying (85% humidity meant that air drying was not an option). The texture is a thick, tacky cream. I found it worked best to apply it to super wet hair with wet hands. If I tried to use it on drier hair, it clumped up and wouldn’t distribute well. The story has a sad ending though. When we moved back to Colorado, the dry climate sucked all the awesome curl out of my hair. Suddenly, the Curls Rock was far too heavy and thick for my hair. It felt greasy, and my hair hung limp after drying. I was heartbroken.
- Amazing smell
- Good definition
- Good hold
- Not crunchy
- Small amount goes far
- More expensive
- Can be greasy
- Can be heavy
- Not volumizing
- Humid climates
- Dry scalps
- Very strong curl patterns
Gel for Curly Hair
DevaCurl Light Defining Gel
The DevaCurl company is the expert in the naturally curly hair world. So even though the products are more expensive, I decided to give them a try. I tried the light defining gel first, because it had high reviews and I knew that my hair probably isn’t thick enough or curly enough to justify a strong gel. It has a light hold, but still defines well. It takes a long time to air dry, but it didn’t control frizz well when I blow dried. When it dries, there is only a very light cast that is easy to shake out. The smell is amazing, and I like that all the DevaCurl products are sulfate, silicone, and alcohol free, which means they are very healthy for curly hair. Because it comes in a travel size, this is the product I take with me when I fly. It really doesn’t create volume well, but it’s not super heavy either.
- Great smell
- Good definition
- Medium hold
- Only lightly crunchy
- Expensive price
- Low volume
- Slow to dry
- Thick hair with loose curls or waves
- Plenty of natural volume
Other Curl Styling Products I Love
Curly Girl: The Handbook
This was a life-changer for me. First, because it’s filled with stories of women just like me who couldn’t accept their own hair for decades and then found it incredibly empowering to embrace that part of themselves. Second, because it has amazing information and tutorials based on each individual type of curl. It lays out exactly how to wash, condition, and style each hair type. It also contains sections on how to find a good hairstylist (because let’s be honest, most stylists have no idea what to do with natural curls), how to cut your own hair, and how to interpret the ingredients list on your products. If you are struggling to embrace your curls and find a style that works, I highly recommend giving it a read.
- Excellent information
- Quick read
- Easy to navigate
- Free Kindle edition for Prime members
- No chapter on combination hair like mine
- Anyone with curly hair who needs expert advice
Curly Hair Clips
Diane Double Prong Clips
Another life-changer for me, right here. After reading Curly Girl: The Handbook, I gave up my blow dryer and bought some drying clips. It took a few weeks for my hair to adjust, but that switch solved my volume and frizz problems. Now I get great volume without frying my hair with heat from the blow dryer. I place the clips after applying product to my wet hair and let it air dry for about two hours. They work by lifting at the roots while my hair dries so it doesn’t dry plastered to the top of my head. I shower early in the morning, so it’s usually dry by the time I’m done with breakfast and dishes and ready to go run errands. It’s not a quick style, but I can do lots of other things around the house while my hair dries, so it actually cut about 20 minutes from my morning routine. I bought the 1 ¾ inch clips, which work just fine, but if I were to buy again, I’d pick longer ones. In the photos you can see how I’ve lifted and clipped at the roots, and also how my hair looks after I take them out and finish with a little hairspray.
- Good for creating volume
- No heat
- Takes a long time to dry
- Curly girls with time in the morning
Best Curly Hair Detangler Comb
Detangler Shower Comb
I gave up my hairbrush two years ago and with it most of my fly-aways. Brushes and fine combs tend to stretch and snap delicate curly hair, so I switched to a wide-tooth shower comb, and my hair stopped breaking off near the roots. Typically, I use it to detangle my dry hair before I get in the shower. After I shower, I finger comb to detangle a bit as I distribute product through my wet hair. My hair isn’t very thick or tangly, so this works for me, but if your hair gets tangled easily, you might need to comb out in the shower with conditioner applied. The point is to stretch and damage the curls as little as possible.
- Conveniently hooks on the shower curtain rod
- Detangles without breaking hair
- Large and not ideal for traveling
- Not great at breaking up tough tangles or matted hair
- Well-maintained curls that detangle easily
Great Pillowcase for Keeping Hair Curly Through the Night
Bedsure Two-Pack Satin Pillowcases Set
I love the idea of a head wrap to sleep in, but I just couldn’t stand it when I tried one. However, I really wanted a way to keep my curls looking good for more than one day, and I was waking up with a ratted mess every morning. So I tried out a satin pillowcase. It’s nice and slippery, and my curls actually do look a little better in the morning than they did before. An extra bonus is how cool it is to sleep on during the hot summer months.
- Helps hair stay smooth overnight
- Nice and cool in the summer
- It’s not a miracle product.
- Your hair will still need some help in the mornings.
- Any curly girl
I hope these products and tips help you love your amazing hair! Good luck in your own naturally curly hair journey, and always remember to embrace your natural beauty!